Just about everyone who embarks on the video editing learning curve winds up with a passing knowledge of sound editing. And just about everybody who deals with sound editing, sooner or later, finds themselves collecting a library of sound effects, atmospheres, textures, soundscapes and the like. For most of us, this starts as an ad hoc collection of what’s needed at the moment or stumbled across in the course of other work. At a certain point—or for a more complex project—one needs a more comprehensive, organized, and/or a higher quality library of sounds to work from. The legendary, highly motivated, or simply obsessive sound editors embark on a massive recording, collecting, and cataloging campaign that lasts a lifetime. For the rest of us, there are libraries to purchase to provide the foundation. And there are lots of them to consider.
Pro Sound Effects is now offering the Hybrid Sound Effects Library, a relatively new library in the market and a rather unique marketing model. The Hybrid Library, with more than 56,000 curated sound effects delivered on a 500 GB USB3 hard drive, is a subset of the entire Pro Sound Effects Online library (consisting of more than 215,000 sounds). All files are organized into parent source libraries and sub-folder categories, are consistently tagged and meta-data-ed for easy searching, and are all in .wav format. Nearly 75 percent of the files are recorded at 24-bit 96 kHz, and all (that I have listened to, anyway) sound excellent, present, natural, and un-hyped.
Two major collections make up the bulk of the Hybrid Library: Sonopedia 2.0 and Foundation, with both having fairly balanced general use catalogs. Foundation seems to lean towards video game design, with more esoteric and otherworldly elements suited to making deeper soundscapes, but this is a somewhat subjective observation. Both collections provide many possibilities for achieving specific sound effects, beds, atmospheres, and even specific practical sounds. All files are clearly named and sorted into folders by collection, in addition to multiple tags and thorough metadata implementation, for both easy browsing and faster searching.
Other components of the Hybrid Library include niche libraries from Blastwave, who put together the massive Sonopedia, (Imaging Elements, many in 5.1 surround; Buzzsaw 2, musical instrument sounds and effects; Zombie Apocalypse, also applicable to non-zombie projects, including a wide variety of chomps, crunches, crashes, bites and breaks), PSE (Rare Animals, individual sounds and ambiences), Sound Control SE Basic (another all-around collection with a little bit of everything) and Sound Effects. ch (a collection of 5.1 surround ambiences), details of all can be found on PSE’s website.
Once or twice a year, PSE releases an expansion to the Hybrid Library that users can purchase for $750 (or $500 when the company offers a sale), typically filling up a 64 GB USB3 thumbdrive. Also, typically once a year, PSE provides all library owners with a free update; this past year this included 4 GB of new sounds, as well as metadata updates where applicable. Hybrid Library owners can always expand their libraries with specifics by downloading from the master collection online; the initial purchase price includes 100 download credits, and each expansion price adds 30 to 50 download credits.
The Hybrid Library is designed for, and targeted at, freelancers and independents. The user must apply to purchase the library, showing that they are not fronting a studio or commercial production facility. Once approved, they can purchase all that is described above, as well as discounted pricing on Soundminer, an industrial level audio asset manager and search tool, directly compatible with many DAWs. Users get the above-mentioned download credits toward purchases from the PSE online library. They are also invited to join an owners group on LinkedIn, to interact, learn from, and share techniques with other library owners, as well as to influence the direction of the Library’s development.
The Pro Sound Effects’ Hybrid Sound Effects Library is supplied on a hard drive.
I used many elements from the Hybrid Library in several projects and in a bunch of experiments. I also spent a lot of time browsing through the collections, auditioning, searching with various terms, trying to get a sense of the organization, file naming, breadth of the collection, and metadata implementation. Both activities go hand in hand when doing this kind of work, so begin with identifying which elements to use; browsing such a large collection for specific elements is not very efficient. There are many different ways and tools for searching, from system-wide search tools, to media search tools, like Adobe Bridge, to applications specifically designed for audio element searches, like Soundminer (soundminer.com). I didn’t have access to Soundminer, but did have an old license for AudioFinder (icedaudio.com), a similar audio asset management, search, and auditioning application that I had not used for quite a while, which amazingly updated to the latest version for free, thus confirming my new “fan” status.
The Hybrid Library is extremely well organized and implemented. From the desktop, it is organized into libraries, each with their individual content folders. When one searches the library, it quickly becomes clear that file names are clear, consistent, and descriptive; tagged descriptive keywords are effective but not overwhelming; metadata implementation is consistent throughout the library and very thorough. Searches yield focused results that are quickly and easily sifted through for the appropriate items. This aspect makes the library easy to use, easy to implement into diverse workflows, and easy to integrate with other collections of sound files.
PSE has taken a rather unique approach to marketing the Hybrid Library. In addition to marketing a well-organized, well-catalogued, and high-quality library, PSE is doing its best to support freelancers and independent contractors with discounted pricing (the Hybrid Library represents a roughly 75 percent discount over individual purchases), and the formation of a community of like-minded professionals. In so many ways, this is not your standard sound effects library, and I highly applaud all aspects of this initiative. Pro Sound Effects has a Hybrid Library sale each December for $1,500, or $1,000 off the regular price. Since the sale has passed, they would like to offer readers of this review the sale price (for one month after the publication date) by using the Partner Priority code: TVTECH15 on the Apply page. Any of the included libraries would be a good starter collection or a great expansion for an existing sound library. The whole Hybrid Library is an excellent value; one that freelancers and independent contractors should check into immediately.
Michael Hanish operates Free Lunch, a video/audio/multimedia production house near Guilford, Vt. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vast sound effects library for all aspects of soundtrack work
High-quality, wide variety, well catalogued with metadata, frequently updated
MSRP, $2,500; $1,500 (sale price)
Pro Sound Effects 646-706-7728
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